Singer-songwriter Tift Merritt wasn’t kidding by titling her fifth album “Another Country.” In this case it was France, specifically Paris, where Merritt “went on vacation with a piano” in 2007 and found herself amply inspired.
“It was just really a rush of creativity. It was just sort of filtering through me,” says the Houston-born Merritt, 33. “I think being so free and open when you’re outside your own culture and own language, everything gets boiled down to this very essential place where you can’t take anything for granted.
“I think that’s a really wonderful way to experience the world that we don’t really get enough. It’s hard to do that in the rush of everyday life.”
The creative respite clearly paid off. “Another Country” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and is her first to appear on the magazine’s Top 200 survey — albeit only at No. 156. Both, however, are proof to Merritt that she found a process that pays dividends.
“One of the things I love so much about this record is it wasn’t this sort of puffed-up mission at all,” she says. “It was a very simple deconstruction of what I was going through and feeling at the time and really just feeling my way along in a foreign country with no thought of what this would be like in some office somewhere.
“It was just a lot of ideas that all came out at once and sounded really good together.”
Tift Merritt and Hoots & Hellmouth perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday (April 2nd) at the Ark,. 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $15. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.